Answering Questions in Quilts

Story and Photos By Emily Stehle

The Artist’s Question Answered in Fiber

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Through May 14
Florida CraftArt
Details here

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This show at Florida CraftArt, a project of SAQA’s (Studio Art Quilt Associates Inc.) Florida region, offers a unique perspective of the creation of artwork.

The assumption is that every work begins with a question. And every art quilt by the 29 artists in this exhibit examines and explains their answer to this question. Juror New York quilt designer Zak Foster selected 29 artworks from 74 entries by 52 accomplished, and many nationally-known, award-winning artists. Each answered a question they explored, making sense of what is our life.

I’ve always associated art quilts as story or memory quilts, and these go beyond storytelling. This experience was a visual feast for the eyes.

Great joy, sadness, laughter, regret, helplessness, anger – all the emotions play out. The artist statements delve further into the thinking behind their story. And that may lead to more questions. . . to be answered by the viewer now and later by the artist in future work.

I best let the artists answer their questions themselves!
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Anclote Answers – Susan Leslie Lumsden

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Anclote Answers: Estuarial Quandaries
Susan Leslie Lumsden
Brooksville, Florida

Susan asks the question, “what if?” Can she showcase her love of nature abstractly?
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Breakthrough – Marian Zielinski

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Marian Zielinski
Macon, Georgia

Marian asked if a small section of a design could evolve into a new direction or new series. She cropped the design, enlarged and reiterated the detail – and added bold, gradated color. She thinks so.
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Brother, Should I Spare a Dime? – Edith Gross

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Brother, Should I Spare a Dime?
Edith Gross
Belle Chasse, Louisiana

The image poses the question we face daily. More people, Edith says, are out on street corners pan-handling. She began to wonder who they were and whom to help, and researched. She was disappointed.

“There was a great deal of information on arresting them and removing them from the streets rather than reaching out to these humans – many of whom are veterans.”
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Creating Love from Despair – Linda M. Kim

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Creating Love from Despair
Linda M. Kim
Austin, Texas

While feeling disheartened in this second year of a pandemic, extreme natural disasters and divisive politics, Linda came upon the song of the Dalai Lama, “Humanity.”

Her answer? Love. “Love is color-blind and inclusive.” Linda started her project with one small red heart. . . and from there proceeded until done.
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Double Threat – Gabriele DiTota

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Double Threat
Gabriele DiTota
Melbourne, Florida

Gabriele’s quilt represents the two top threats we faced in 2021 – the contagious Covid-19 virus and a global climate crisis.
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Feeling Exuberant -Somersault – Peg Green

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Feeling Exuberant – Somersault
Peg Green
Sarasota, Florida

Peg’s life is full of joy, delight, the lightness of being, feelings in her heart.

“I want to show them in my art. . . it’s a whole life full of moment and thought, my emotional essence,” she writes. And then asks, “Can you feel it, too?”
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First Waves, Flattening Curves, Persistent Peaks – Sara Sharp

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First Waves, Flattening Curves, Persistent Peaks
Sara Sharp
Austin, Texas

Sara was inspired by the daily newspaper and television charts we were bombarded with at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak.

How do we decide how safe or panicked we should be? No one really knows for sure.
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Grey Matter Chaos – Annie Smith

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Grey Matter Chaos
Annie Smith
The Woodlands, Texas

What happens to a brain when an artist’s creativity is stifled?
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Have We Crossed the Line? – Susan M. Robinson

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Have We Crossed the Line?
Susan M. Robinson
Avon Park, Florida

As children, we learn to “follow the lines” when coloring. I tried very hard to do this and always felt bad because I couldn’t stay between the lines. I did not enjoy coloring and still don’t.

Susan writes, “For most of us, this way of life works. . . But for a few of us, this will never do. We must stretch those wings and the boundaries that hold us fast, crossing those lines is the only way to go forward.”
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Life is a Cycle – Jane Hartfield

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Life is a Cycle
Jane Hartfield
Fort Smith, Arkansas

What is the Secret of Life? “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Tragedy to joy. Sickness to health. Poverty to wealth. All things change as long as we live.”
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Mama, Are We There Yet? – Leslie A. Hall

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Mama, Are We There Yet?
Leslie A. Hall
Longboat Key, Florida

Leslie says we’ve landed in Bizarro World, where all things are opposite to reality. Ugly is beautiful, red is green. Blue is orange and bad is good.
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Red Skies: Beauty or Beast – Susan Charles

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Red Skies: Beauty or Beast
Susan Charles
New Orleans, Louisiana

What was once a beautiful sunset is now a deadly fire.
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Nor Could Our Hands Catch Them – Bobbi Baugh

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Nor Could Our Hands Catch Them
Bobbi Baugh
DeLand, Florida

Bobbi explored trying to capture nature-in-motion in two dimensions. And she decided the way to do that was to recreate a sense of movement. Her flock of seagulls fly though the air and the school of fish dance in water.

“My hope is that the picture plane has captured what my hands could not.”
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Party Lights – Karol Kusmaul

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Party Lights
Karol Kusmaul
Inverness, Florida

Birds at a nighttime party? Dark, yet illuminated – a set of patio lights, lush gardens, vines, birds, and of course, worms!
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Ring the Bell – Gretchen Brooks

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Ring the Bell
Gretchen Brooks
Gainesville, Florida

Can fiber art symbolize joy, and a feeling of having cleared a giant hurdle?

Ringing the bell is a ceremony many cancer patients celebrate after completing radiation therapy, accompanied by reciting these words, “Ring this bell, three times well. Its toll to clearly say. My treatment’s done, this course is run, and I am on my way.”
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Screen Door with a View – Regina Dunn

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Screen Door with a View
Regina Dunn
DeLand, Florida

Art can honor simple, everyday things. In this case, Regina chose to honor the beauty of a hole in a screen door. More specifically, I would say, to honor the passage of time.

“Thinking about how that arrangement of lines in the hole formed is fascinating,” she writes. “Over time, many people pressed their hands on the screen to open and close the door, causing stresses to parts of the metal mesh.”
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Sending Kisses by Moonlight – Kathleen Campau

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Sending Kisses by Moonlight
Kathleen Campau
The Villages, Florida

Kathleen asked how to stay close to a loved one when apart, a world away?

She sends her granddaughter kisses to the moon every night so “when she goes to bed and gazes up at the moon, the moonlight will shower her with my love.”
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Spirit Owl – Diane Powers Harris

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Spirit Owl’s Offering – Solace
Diane Powers Harris
Ocala, Florida

From an emotion of rage, Diane found the act of creating art. An owl from a piece of hot magenta mulberry silk, a blessing and solace.
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Still a mother, sister, friend – Beth Frisbee Wallace

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Still a mother, sister, friend. . .
Beth Frisbee Wallace
Francestown, New Hampshire

Beth’s piece identifies who she is now. . . a surviving spouse reminded of future experiences that have been lost.

But still a mother, sister and friend.
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Sunken Treasures Giltless Pleasures? – Shannon Marie Pernoud

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Sunken Treasures – Giltless Pleasures
Shannon Marie Pernoud
Cape Coral, Florida

Shannon defined how we define “worth.” She writes, ”My belief is the pursuit of beauty is an expression of excellence within us. . . Perhaps all that glitters is gold – creativity recaptures from the depths.”
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The Same but Different – Angie Knowles

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The Same But Different
Angie Knowles
St. Petersburg, Florida

Angie asked how people are created the same but end up different. We all have skin, bones, the same needs, but we have differences.

“In the end, it is the threads of humanity (hand stitching) that connect us.”
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Too Many Choices – Linda Geiger

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Too Many Choices
Linda Geiger
Cocoa Beach, Florida

Linda asks, “Do we really need this stuff?” She’s worried about our daily creation, consumption and destruction of products and embarrassed by product variety in our disposable society.

“We have so much, while others struggle to exist with so little,” she writes.
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Urban Jeopardy – Sally Dutko

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Urban Jeopardy
Sally Dutko
Fort Myers, Florida

Yes, artists can influence cultural and social movements as has happened in the past, answers Sally. “We must help define and create a myriad of possibilities for reshaping our transitioning urban landscape.”
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Weathered Cedar – Beauty on the Marsh – Becky Stack

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Weathered Cedar – Beauty on the Marsh
Becky Stack
St. Augustine, Florida

Beauty in age?
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Where Did the Bluewater Go? – Pamela R. Morris

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Where Did the Bluewater Go?
Pamela R. Morris
Venice, Florida

“. . . I can see the grass flats, the estuaries, and the deep water are suffering loss of their natural environment. . . We humans spend so much time fighting amongst ourselves we cannot unite in defeating a common enemy – our need to have it here and now. . .”
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Who Does Your Stripes – Mel Dugosh

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Who Does Your Stripes?
Mel Dugosh
Honda, Texas

Mel related her first snorkeling experience in the Gulf of Mexico with colorful fish who “surrounded my hands staring in awe and amazement at my intricately painted fingernails. . .”

The deeper question for her has been “understanding the wonders of intimate unspoken relationships between humans and all creatures great and small.
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Whirling Past Darkness – Susie Monday

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Whirling Past Darkness
Susie Monday
San Antonio, Texas

Susie asked the age-old question, “How do we get through hard times as artists?” Her answer – a perspective of the cosmos.

Her piece is part of a series inspired by the children’s book, On the Day You Were Born, showing color, light and shape making its way out through the darkness.
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Why Do You Worry? – Deborah Kuster

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Why Do You Worry?
Deborah Kuster
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

“I know in my heart-of-hearts that worrying does not solve or change anything,” writes Deborah. “My ‘worry’ question prompted me to weave fields of simple, color flowers.

“As I wove, I began to envision a larger, single flower composed of my fields of flowers and embellished with additional embroidery. When we consider the splendor of each lily of the fields, may we remember that God knows our needs and He cares.”
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Yellow is Joy – Sherri Lipman McCauley

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Yellow is Joy
Sherri Lipman McCauley
Lakeway, Texas

Yellow makes Sherri smile. It means laughter, hope and sunshine. . . Cheery, warm and joyful.
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Many of the featured artists visited Florida CraftArt’s exhibit

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This SAQA show will travel to these other venues
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SAQA Global Conference – “Bridging the Gulf: Fabric to Fine Art” Virtual Exhibition
April-May 2022

Alliance for the Arts
Fort Myers, Florida
June 2022

Eastern Shore Art Center
Fairhope, Alabama
September-October 2022

Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
November-December 2022

Museum of Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas
January-April 2023

Marco Island Center for the Arts
Marco Island, Florida
May-June 2023
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Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt, “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.” Members include more than 3,400 artists, collectors and arts professionals throughout the world.,

Florida CraftArt is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 and headquartered in St. Petersburg. Its mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work.,, 727-821-7391.. . .

Through May 14 at
Florida CraftArt
501 Central Ave.
St. Petersburg FL 33701

Gallery Hours
10 am-5:30 pm Monday-Saturday
noon-5 pm Sunday

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